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On refs and refereeing

A week, almost. Clattenberg has been clattered. Referees have been badmouthed; though, Chelsea now allege that it was the referee himself who badmouthed. Literally. Technology has been called for. A week has rolled on and it is time for action again. Last week will be history. New refereeing decisions will come and then they will go. More decisions will be put under the microscope. Technology will be called for. Rinse. Repeat.

Referees, as a species, are quaint things, in truth. No one wants them there but no one can do without them. They seem to be at the eye of the storm of pretty much any altercation. Oh yes! That is their job, of course. No, not to be a part of the altercation but to quell it. At least, in theory.

Referees seem to be universally loathed but at the same time loved. Or something like that. Respected. Well, perhaps. Or maybe not. It is the nature of their job that if they do their job perfectly, no one bats an eyelid but if they make a mistake, they are hounded like witches in the medieval times. A thankless job, one would be inclined to think. It leaves one wondering why anyone takes it up in the first place.

The fact is that football, at the end of the day, is a game. It is, of course, more than a game but the point is that it is a game that is played by the homo sapiens. For the most part, at least. Perhaps apes play it in the jungles but that is not in the purview of this discussion.

When two members of the species oppose each other, they expect that there will be a third member to settle disputes. It is inherent in human nature that we need someone to lay down the laws for us or to reinforce them. It is also very much in our nature, however, to rebel against them for doing their job. Or for making a mistake.

The point that people make is that referees are paid for what they do and hence ought to do their jobs. Fair enough. However, they are human beings too and human beings are prone to making mistakes. So are referees. Some mistakes are costlier than others. A referee awarding a penalty in stoppage time in the Champions League final when the scores are tied would think vastly differently than when he were awarding a free-kick at the center circle.

If the laws are to be imposed in their letter, imagine the game of football. Every cross that is played in, and which strikes the arm of an opposition player will be given a penalty. The law states such. However, there is a judgement call of whether the ball hit the hand or the hand hit the ball. Can technology make that decision? Perhaps sometime in 2060, it can. Now? No.

Or take the case of a player clean through on goal and gets clipped by the goalkeeper. It is the 93rd minute. This is to win it. He stumbles but somehow manages to stay on his feet. He taps the ball into the net. However, technology intervenes. He was fouled. The law states that the penalty ought to be awarded and the goalie sent off. The two are done. The goalie is replaced. The penalty is taken. It is saved. The goal is naught.  Such is life.

The point, quite simply, is this. Referees are bound to make mistakes. It is inevitable. The law of averages will ensure that it happens. Even Bradman does not have a 100. However, for every mistake that they make, they will make five correct ones that will go unnoticed. Why? Because it is their job to do so. Right on! With replays and slo-mos in abundance, every decision is magnified and bloated out of proportion. Over a season, the decisions even out. Fact.

Perhaps the scrutiny is justified but then blaming a game on a referee is balderdash. If a team is good enough, it will win, regardless or perhaps in spite of a bad decision; or four.

Besides, if we did not have referees, then who would we fans blame for the losses, eh?

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